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RGCB develops crop protection procedure sans chemicals, pesticides


Thiruvananthapuram, March 23
A team of researchers from Kerala has come out with a procedure of protecting crops by strengthening their immune system in a natural way without using hazardous chemicals and pesticides.

The team led by S. Manjula at the Rajiv Gandhi Centre for Biotechnology (RGCB) here has conducted the study on pepper plants and it has shown enormous promise for protection and better yield of pepper crop.

Manjula said there is convincing evidence to prove the potential of 'priming' or 'sensitising' in protecting pepper plants from the deleterious effects of 'foot-rot'.

She pointed out that Glycol Chitosan (GC), a water soluble, non-toxic polymer known to induce plant defence, was used in the study to 'prime' the leaves of pepper plants.

"It was observed that GC treatment offered protection from the severity of 'foot-rot' disease and caused a significant delay in the appearance of symptoms. The priming effect was manifested through enhanced expression of critical genes of the plant immunity pathways," said Manjula, adding that diseases and pests pose serious constraints to sustainable yields of commercial black pepper.

"Increasing the efficiency of the plant's immune system would reduce the need to rely on unsustainable pesticides," said Manjula.

The findings of the study were recently published in the journal 'Frontiers in Plant Science'.

RGCB Director Chandrabhas Narayana said it is an important research with implications not only for pepper plants, but also for several other plantations.

"It is sustainable and inherently ecological as defence priming has huge potential to significantly reduce the use of high-risk pesticides and synthetic chemicals," said Narayana.